San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy Rivalry

One of the biggest MLS rivalries is between the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy. Games between these two teams are called California Clasicos. These two teams have been at odds since the creation of the MLS in 1996, and this rivalry isn't ending any time soon. Let's learn more about the history of the California Clasico rivalry.

Earthquakes vs. Galaxy Overview

Both the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy were among the first teams to join the MLS in 1996. Since then, they have had a strong rivalry as the two original California teams. Because they are only about 360 miles apart from one another, their fans are able to travel to away games, making any matchup between them even more exciting. The matchup between the two teams is called the California Clasico, in homage to other rivalries seen in Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain and Argentina.

The Galaxy were dominant in early years, but the Quakes have been able to win more games in recent years, taking 13 points out of the possible 18 between 2017 and August 2020. Both teams have won MLS Cups; the Galaxy have four titles and the Quakes have two, one of which was won against the Galaxy.

Rivalry Statistics

There are several players who are known to have scored a lot during these rivalry games. These players include:

  • Landon Donovan (8 goals for LA, 4 for SJ)
  • Robbie Keane (7 goals for LA)
  • Carlos Ruiz (6 goals for LA)
  • Chris Wondolowski (11 goals for SJ as of 2020)

There have been an incredible amount of goals scored during this rivalry. As of the 2020 season, the count was:

  • San Jose: 123 goals
  • Los Angeles: 139 goals

Top Clasico Games And Moments

While the Galaxy have had more success overall in the rivalry, most of the top games and moments belong to the Earthquakes. Here are some of the most celebrated and well known Quakes moments during the rivalry.

2001 MLS Cup

The finals of the 2001 MLS Cup were between the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy. The game sat at 1-1 at halftime, with no goals being scored in the second half until Dwayne De Rosario scored for the Quakes six minutes into extra time, winning the game and the Cup for the Quakes, their first since joining the league.

The Comeback

In the 2003 Western Conference Semifinal, the Quakes and the Galaxy found themselves competing once again. The Galaxy went up 2-0 early in the game, but the Quakes managed to score 5 goals during the rest of the game, winning the aggregate semifinal 5-4! This is considered to be one of the greatest comebacks in MLS history.

"Goonies Never Say Die"

The Goonies movie quote "Goonies never say die" has become a rallying cry for the Quakes, and it was first introduced during the 2012 season by Steven Lenhart. The team became known for their last-minute goals and wins. After one such game in the 2013 season when the Quakes came back from a 2-1 score with two goals in extra time, beating the Galaxy 3-2, Lenhart quoted this line to cameras after the game. Since then, it can be seen on fan's signs during games and on social media surrounding the team.


Why are the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy rivals?

When the MLS was created, San Jose and LA were the only two California teams in the league. This, and the fact that the two teams are only 360 miles apart, made for an easy rivalry. The two teams battle for the title of best California team, and because they are in the same western conference, play each other more often than teams in the eastern conference. The rivalry is made stronger because of the short distance between the two teams, as fans are able to travel easier to away games and cheer for their teams both at home and on the road.

Why is the Quakes-Galaxy rivalry called the California Clasico?

The rivalry between the Earthquakes and the Galaxy is called the California Clasico in homage to some of the rivalries from Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain and Argentina. The rivalry connecting FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is also called the Clasico, which is where the name for this MLS rivalry started.

How long have the Quakes and the Galaxy been rivals?

Since the Galaxy and the Earthquakes are both original MLS teams located in Southern California, their rivalry has existed the entirety of their time in the league, dating back to 1996. The peak of the rivalry was between 2001 and 2005, when both teams were consistently competing for spots in the MLS Cup game. There was a pause in the rivalry after 2005 when the Quakes moved to Texas and became the Houston Dynamo, but came back again strong in 2008 when a new Earthquakes team was developed in San Jose. The rivalry still lives on today and continues to bring hard fought and intense games.

Who leads the rivalry between the Quakes and the Galaxy?

As of 2020, the LA Galaxy lead the Quakes in games won with 41 games to the Quakes' 31. The two teams have drawn 19 times. This number is bound to change over time as the two teams continue to play one another in each MLS season.

What other rivalries do the Earthquakes have?

The Earthquakes' rivalry with the Galaxy is their largest and most well-known, but the Quakes also have rivals in other MLS teams. The Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders are both established rivals with the team. The Seattle rivalry comes from both teams' NASL days. The USL team Sacramento Republic FC has been a rival in the U.S. Open Cup and in friendlies matches, and will certainly become an even stronger rival when they join MLS in 2023.